Posts Tagged ‘youth baseball’

USABat Standard Adopted by Youth Baseball for 2018 Season

USA Baseball takes over bat-standard setting to preserve integrity of game

As the governing body of youth baseball, USA Baseball adopted a new bat standard for youth baseball ages 14 and under, effective January 1, 2018. USA Baseball assembled a bat study committee of leading scientists that conducted field and lab testing of bat performance to arrive at the new standard. The standard, known as USABat, has been adopted by its member organizations, including AABC, Babe Ruth/Ripkin, Dixie, Little League, and PONY. The purpose of the new wood-like standard is to protect the integrity of the game, not for safety reasons as “youth baseball continues to be one of the safest of all sports,” according to USA Baseball.

NCAA and NFHS BBCOR standard comes to youth baseball

USABat will follow the lead of the NCAA and NFHS in adopting the BBCOR standard with some minor modifications to account for differences in balls, bat lengths and pitching speeds in the younger age groups. Recent advances in technology and materials now allow manufacturers to produce bats that can perform at the wood-like level for youth baseball through the entire range of lengths and weights.

What about the 2017 season?

The USABat stamp will replace the existing 1.15 BPF stamp that is currently displayed on approved youth bats. The 1.15 BPF stamp will continue to be used throughout the 2017 season. However, effective January 1, 2018, approved bats must bear the USABat stamp.

Additional points of interest:

  • The new standard will allow for bats to be made of the lightest weight materials since there will no longer be a drop-weight limit.
  • The new bats will not be available for purchase until Sept. 1, 2017.
  • The new standard will apply both to 2-1/4” bats as well as 2-5/8” bats.
  • USSSA will not adopt the new standard.

Personal observations

As a member of the USA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee, I was privileged to observe some of the meetings with the various scientists who conducted the lab and field tests of the new bats. It was amazing to see how these professionals applied physics to arrive at their conclusions. The leadership at USA Baseball did an outstanding job of managing this project.

USA Baseball Announces New Youth Bat Performance Test Program

New standard aims to eliminate performance disparities for long term integrity of the game

USA Baseball recently announced the adoption of a new bat performance testing method for youth baseball bats for ages 12 & under.

USAB is basing the new standard on research that demonstrates manufacturers now have the technology and materials to construct non-wood youth bats throughout the entire range of lengths and weights that perform on the same level as wood bats.

USAB National member organizations American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball, and PONY Baseball are supporting the new program, USABat.

USABat will go into effect January 1, 2018 and be applicable to bats classified below NCAA and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) age levels. The 2018 date means no immediate changes will be made to the rules and allows time for the bat manufacturer to get the products into retail outlets.

The goal of USABat is to make the game more uniform by eliminating performance discrepancies to maintain the integrity of the game. The USABat performance test is based on the coefficient of restitution from a bat-ball impact. This is similar to the BBCOR standard that is being used by NCAA and NFHS. However, the youth bats were tested with different balls and pitch speeds to simulate the youth game.

All new bats displaying USABat licensing mark (available in the fall of 2017) will be permissible for play in participating youth baseball organizations. Bats currently deemed acceptable by their league will be permitted through December 31, 2017.

In my opinion: Even though not a stated goal, this new standard will address the issue of the “hot bat” and the fear of line drive injuries to pitchers and infielders.

MLB and USA Baseball Hit Home Run with Pitch Smart

Program aims to reduce youth pitching injuries

Major League Baseball and USA Baseball recently developed the Pitch Smart compliance program to help identify the youth baseball organizations that have adopted its principles and guidelines.  Pitch Smart offers players, parents and coaches guidelines on avoiding overuse injuries.

Organizations can be designated as being in “full compliance” or “select compliance.”

Organizations in full compliance are required to:

  1. follow the Pitch Smart pitch count and rest period guidelines pertaining to pitch counts across all competitions;
  2. request that players, coaches and parents follow all additional Pitch Smart guidelines;
  3. post or link to the Pitch Smart information on the organization’s website;
  4. distribute Pitch Smart information to all coaches;
  5. include Pitch Smart information in all formal coaches’ meetings; and
  6. encourage parent and player awareness with the inclusion of Pitch Smart information in team orientation meetings.

Organizations in select compliance are required to:

  1. follow the Pitch Smart pitch count and rest period guidelines across select competitions;
  2. request that players, coaches and parents follow all additional Pitch Smart guidelines;
  3. post or link to the Pitch Smart information on the organization’s website;
  4. distribute Pitch Smart information to all coaches;
  5. have a developed plan and continue to show progress in adopting all of the Pitch Smart full compliance standards standards.

“Education supporters” will also be recognized by the program. These groups help in promoting awareness of the Pitch Smart principles and are making continued efforts toward compliance in the program.

For a full list of organizations in full or select compliance, visit the Pitch Smart website, which also offers information on other pitching risk factors. You can also read more articles related to pitching injuries on our blog.

Little League Fraud and Embezzlement

Insider crime leads to big league problems

Vice Sports recently published a story on embezzlement and fraud schemes and apparently lax financial management system in Little League across the country. In “Little Big Crime,” Vice Sports reports volunteer staff embezzled or stole close to $2 million from within 37 Little Leagues in 2009, with 19 of those cases taking place in the last two years.

Every parent, coach, administrator and officer of a youth sports organization should read the article. The point of the story isn’t to paint Little League as a corrupt youth sport organization. The fact of the matter is that embezzlement in volunteer-run organizations and the high dollar amount of funds that go missing aren’t uncommon. It could easily be happening in your organization right under your nose.

We’ve been posting articles on fraud and embezzlement within youth sports for quite some time and offering tips on how to prevent such crimes. If I’ve heard one, I’ve heard a hundred administrators of sports organizations say it could never happen to them. Well, the first few paragraphs of the Vice Sports article illustrates just how shockingly vulnerable every organization is. Over a six year period a trusted and well-respected man serving as a trusted Little League vice president for over 15 years stole more than $200,000 before the crime was discovered.  After accounting for the interest payments on unnecessary loans he took out in the league’s name, the ultimate cost to the league was in the range of $270,000.

Protecting your organization

Needless to say, without a Crime Insurance policy, there’s little hope of ever recovering that money. Crime Insurance protects organizations from employee dishonesty, forgery and alteration, and theft of money and securities. Such a policy should be specially endorsed to cover theft by employees and officers.

It can’t be stressed strongly enough how important it is to put safeguards in place to prevent theft of registrations fees, concession profits, fund raising money and abuse of credit cards and bank accounts. If you or someone other than the person handling the finances of your organization hasn’t checked the books and bank statements lately, do it today.

And if your organization doesn’t have a Crime Insurance policy, call us today to discuss your needs and get a quote at 800- 622-7370.

Source: Aaron Gordon, “Little Big Crime:The Multimillion Dollar Little League Fraud Crisis,” 06 Oct. 2014.

Reducing Facial Injuries in Youth Baseball

Batter face guards improve injury statistics

A study of youth baseball Accident Insurance claims from 1994 to 2008 revealed that the batter’s face guard was effective in eliminating a significant percentage of facial injuries. Baseball facial InjuryThe study consisted of Accident claim data provided by Sadler Sports Insurance on behalf of Dixie Youth Baseball and Dixie Boys Baseball, which was analyzed by the USA Baseball Medical And Safety Advisory Committee.

Batter’s face guards were effective in reducing the number of facial injuries to batters being struck in the face by pitched balls and base runners being stuck in the face by thrown balls. The number of injuries dropped from about three percent in leagues where use of face guards was voluntary to less than half of one percent of all claims in leagues where their use was mandatory.

Even though the reduction in facial injuries was impressive, the USA Baseball Medical And Safety Advisory Committee noted that the batter’s face guard does not need to be required in youth baseball as a result of the overall low risk of facial injuries due to pitched balls. However, the use of the batter’s face guard should be encouraged and does not appear to pose an increased risk of injury to the batter, base runner, or to other players on the field.

See the full study.

MLB Catcher Concussion Rates Rising

Trend in 2013 season unknown

On any given day, there are between 60 and 75 catchers on major league rosters and about Baseball concussions15 percent of them have been on the disabled list specifically designed for concussions within the last 30 days.

Major League Baseball catchers are experiencing concussions at an alarming rate this season. At least one was caused by the accumulation of foul tips. I’m sure that MLB will be studying this trend carefully and develop suggestions to better protect catchers.

Our injury statistics for youth baseball Accident claims don’t indicate a frequency problem in this area. Since we started tracking injuries in 1994, about three tenths of one percent of total injuries involved catchers suffering concussions, and none were due to being hit in the mask by a foul tip.

Source: Aaron Gleeman, “Catchers are Suffering Concussions at an Alarming Rate,” 21 Aug. 2013.

Moneyball in Youth Baseball

Elite players at higher risk of injury

An interesting investigative article was published in South Florida Sun Sentinel about the Youth baseball pitching injuriesupper echelons of youth travel baseball. Some of it’s subtitles and headers were Bidding Wars, Cutthroat Baseball, The Parent, Injuries, The Owners, The Prospect, The Wild West, and Big benefits/No guarantees.  Like it or not, travel baseball has carved out a significant niche in the youth baseball market.

From a sports insurance perspective, travel teams represent an increased risk of injury and liability as compared to recreation teams. This is due to higher level of competition with stronger bodies, higher speeds, and more risk taking, more games on the schedule, travel exposure, and exposures of motel downtime.  Another injury risk is burned out arms from year round baseball.  See the SA Baseball Medical/Safety Advisory Committee report on Youth Baseball Pitching Injuries that cites the total pitches thrown per year as the number one predictor of youth arm and shoulder injuries

Source: Amy Shipley; Florida Sun Sentinel, March 16, 2013.

Congratulations, J. Sandy Jones!

Dixie Boys Commissions Inducted into Alabama Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame

Congratulations to our client, J. Sandy Jones, the commissioner of Dixie Boys Baseball, Inc., on his induction into the Alabama Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies will be held January 19, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

AASA Sandy Photo 1 Jones played competitive softball for 28 years. During that time he participated in 12 national tournaments, was named to two all-American teams, and was a team member with many of the best teams in the state of Alabama. Teams that Jones participated with won seven state championships. Two of the teams that Sandy participated with during his career were ranked as one of top-20 teams in the nation.

Sandy ended his slow-pitch softball career in 1999 with his team ASA State Championswinning the Class B ASA National Championship. Jones was named to an all-American team for the second time. The championship team was sponsored by Caraway Steel and based out of Auburn, Alabama. The 1999 year had Jones batting in the lead-off position for most of the year and posting a .709 season average.

“You meet many great people through playing softball, including the players, umpires and those that manage the tournaments and program on behalf of ASA. During my playing career, I wanted to be a good ambassador for the game by displaying a spirit of good sportsmanship at all times, a real desire for fair play and a real respect for the game including my opponents, the umpires and tournament officials.” – Sandy Jones, Commissioner/CEO (1995 – present)

New Studies on Curveballs in Youth Baseball

Research results fuel new debate

Parents and coaches of young baseball players know the drill: no curveballs. The edict is based on the potential for injuries in young pitchers due to the mechanics involved in delivering the pitch. But recent studies have fueled the debate as to whether risk of injury from throwing curveballs actually exists.

“For years, we told people that curveballs were bad. Then we set out to prove it. We did not prove curveballs are safe, but we could not prove they were dangerous,” said Glenn Fleisig, the research director of the American Sports Medicine Institute, who has conducted studies on breaking balls and young arms since 1996.

The force of throwing a curveball is no greater than for a fastball when the proper mechanics are employed. But many kids either don’t have proper mechanics, enough neuromuscular control, or are fatigued when throwing curveballs, according to James Andrews, an orthopedic surgeon and a founder of ASMI.

A study by the University of North Carolina was conducted on more than 1,300 pitchers aged 8 to college age. The study was commissioned by the Little League and USA Baseball leagues. The pitchers were observed over a five year period, annually assessing the number of innings pitched, types of pitches thrown, number of teams played for and any arm pain or injuries experienced.

“There was no association betwamateur baseball insuranceeen throwing curveballs and injuries or even arm pain,” said Johna Mihalik, author of the study.

Dr. Timothy Kremchek, an orthopedic surgeon and Cincinnati Reds’ physician, thinks Little League’s position is irresponsible.  It’s his opinion that Little League has an obligation to protect the young players but are instead are saying, “There’s no scientific evidence curveballs cause damage, so go ahead, kids, just keep throwing them.” Medical professionals who have to treat those players a few years later are pretty sure there is a cause and effect, according to Kremchek.

Others wonder if asking whether the curveball is safe is the wrong question and whether overdoing it is the problem. It’s been proven scientifically that too much throwing leads to injury, and sometimes serious injury.

In my opinion:

I’m on the USA Baseball Medical and Safety Committee with Glenn Fleisig. Based on the studies that I’ve seen, the quantity of pitches in a season is the number one predictor of elbow/shoulder pain in youth baseball.  As for curveballs, it’s important to give more weight to scientific research than anecdotal observations.  However, additional studies should be performed on the impact of proper techniques vs. improper technique when throwing curveballs.

The USA Baseball Medical and Safety Committee has a number of excellent articles on youth baseball safety.

John Sadler

Source: Bill Pennington, “Young Arms and Curveballs: A Scientific Twist,” 11 Mar. 2012

Commotio Cordis in Youth Baseball

The AED, chest protectors and safety ball factors

Following is a summary of an excerpt from the USA Baseball Medical And Safety Committee’s report on Commotio Cordis in Baseball:

Commotio cordis or cardiac concussion can cause sudden death in young baseball players. It is the result of a low velocity impact to the chest from a thrown or batted ball, usually traveling at a speed of between 20 and 50 mph. The impact must occur directly over the heart; the closer to the center, the greater the risk. The cause of death is the development of an abnormal rhythm, ventricular fibrillation, though there may be some affect on the blood circulation to the heart as well. For such a catastrophic event to occur, the impact has to be precisely timed to strike the heart during a 15 to 30-millisecond phase of the electrical cycle.

There is a 90 percent death rate among those suffering commotio cordis. The lack of response to CPR efforts by healthy young baseball players is unexpected and remains unexplained. However, it is clear that a rapid response time – three to five minutes – is critical.

Batters should learn ball avoidance and turn away from an inside pitch and not open the chest to the impact, as is so typically the case. Avoidance while bunting requires special attention. Pitchers as well should be coached in proper fielding positions and ball avoidance when necessary. Chest wall protectors that are commercially available have not demonstrated to prevent commotio cordis. Studies with baseballs seem to indicate that lighter and softer balls may diminish the risk, but their acceptability for play by older children is of question.

In my opinion…

Studies indicate that the chances of surviving an incident of commotio cordis is enhanced if a shock from an automated external defibrilator (AED) can be delivered promptly. Most ball parks don’t have AEDs and those that do must have well-practiced procedures in place for the rapid use of the device. Otherwise all is for naught. I am often amazed at the marketing efforts by the vendors of chest protectors. It makes sense that they would help but the scientific studies indicate that many don’t offer any protection and may actually be contra indicated. Apparently, most chest protector vendors need to go back to the drawing board with their designs.

Also, the high-profile lawsuit in New Jersey of a pitcher being stuck by a batted ball that came off of an alleged “hot bat” involved commotio cordis resulting in a permanent disability to the pitcher. The metal bat manufacturer and others were sued. What is interesting to note is that commotio cordis usually occurs only when a projectile travels at a relatively slow speed, usually between 20 to50 mph. In this case the basis for the lawsuit was that the ball speed was too fast as a result of the alleged “hot bat”.

  – John Sadler